Resource Library

COVID-19 Update: The John T. Gorman Foundation is curating a list of resources, emerging best practices, and innovative ideas from across the country to help local organizations serve vulnerable Mainers during the coronavirus outbreak. To access those resources, visit www.jtgfoundation.org/resources/covid-19 or enter Covid-19 in the keyword search. Those results can be further focused by using the “Filter by” menu above to filter by population type (Young Children, Older Youth, Families, and Seniors) or by clicking the following links: childcare, education, food security, housing, rural areas, and workforce.

The John T. Gorman Foundation strives to be data-driven and results based and seeks to promote information and ideas that advance greater understanding of issues related to our mission and priorities. In our effort to promote these values, we offer these research and best practice resources collected from reputable sources across the country. The library also includes briefs and reports the Foundation has commissioned or supported, a listing of which can be found here.

 

Solar-powered mobile hotspots bring internet to rural Virginia for remote learning

October 15, 2020 – Older Youth

Rural stakeholders continue creative provision of internet hotspots to support remote learning into the new school year. The Daily Yonder reports that school officials in rural Louisa County in Virginia initially used hotspots on school buses but struggled to secure a consistent power source. To address this, the school district’s technology director proposed mobile solar-powered hotspots. These “Wireless on Wheels” units cost around $3,000 apiece to create and are designed to continue running even on cloudy days. #covid-19 #rural #education

Mississippi Delta food relief providers share lessons learned in the pandemic

October 1, 2020 – Families

A new publication posted through the Center for Population Studies at the University of Mississippi describes findings from 33 phone interviews of food pantry and charitable food organization representatives in the Mississippi Delta region. The authors suggest that barriers to providing adequate food assistance are important, but that those barriers are not specific to food providers. Challenges include limited quantities of PPE, widespread job and income loss in the community, lack of adequate mental health support in the community, concern about sustainable operations after federal relief programs end, loss of supports usually provided through schools, and general challenges of rural infrastructure. The providers identified the importance of building on existing networks to increase “visibility and effectiveness” of social service agencies, expanding internet access by siting computers with Wi-Fi for (safe) public use, and establishing alternate food sourcing methods, including through direct-from-farm and online models to reduce transportation barriers for distribution and consumer purchase. #covid-19 #foodsecurity #mentalhealth #rural

Rural counties with higher percentages of Black and Hispanic/Latinx residents have higher COVID-19 mortality rates

September 20, 2020 – Families

New research published in The Journal of Rural Health explores COVID-19 death rates in rural areas, finding that rural counties with greater shares of Black and Hispanic/Latinx residents report higher death rates. Authors used COVID-19 daily death data for 1,976 nonmetropolitan (rural) counties from the beginning of March through the end of July 2020. This research shows that COVID-19 mortality risk is not only higher for Black and Hispanic/Latinx residents of cities, but for those living in rural areas as well. #covid-19 #rural #racialequity

Colorado organization connects rural businesses with information, community

September 18, 2020 – Families

The Daily Yonder explores how one organization has supported rural Colorado businesses during the pandemic. The organization, called Startup Colorado, supports new businesses and rural-based entrepreneurs across the state. At the beginning of the pandemic, Startup Colorado starting hosting weekly regional update calls with information from local and federal agencies. Besides providing a space for information dissemination, the regional calls also started to form a virtual community where entrepreneurs can connect. #covid-19 #rural

How courageous schools partnering with local communities can overcome digital inequalities during COVID-19

September 17, 2020 – General

Across the U.S., “pandemic pods,” or quarantine learning bubbles, are being established to protect students and teachers from the coronavirus, or COVID-19, and limit possible exposure within the group. Homeschooling has become an increasingly viable option for parents who can offer the space, time, structure, and technology to their children. Private and charter schools are also drawing the attention of families with children in public schools by offering more robust digital resources and student support. But these pathways to continuous learning are not available to students who may reside in communities with limited spaces for play, in geographically isolated rural areas, and among those with limited or no access to home broadband. These differences in resources result in the racial and income disparities that define the digital divide and have far-reaching implications for school-age children without internet access. #education #rural #racialequity

College enrollment declines, especially among disadvantaged students

September 16, 2020 – Older Youth

The Washington Post describes early signs of disproportionate college enrollment declines and higher dropouts among low-income students, students of color, and rural students. Declines in enrollment are greatest at community colleges. College enrollment increased during the Great Recession and tends to increase in any economic downturn, although the opposite is happening in the current pandemic-related recession. Some key reasons for this include concerns about exposure to the virus, lost income prohibiting enrollment, and challenges with virtual classes such as insufficient access to broadband and other technology at home. As enrollment declines unevenly, concerns about perpetuating inequality abound. #covid-19 #education #racialequity #rural

New food relief initiative in Vermont successful in supporting rural communities

September 8, 2020 – Families

In early August, Vermont started a food relief initiative called Vermont Everyone Eats! which pays local restaurants to supply meals to residents in need. Volunteers help hand out meals to those in need, who line up at drive-through style distribution sites. The program was first rolled out in the town of Brattleboro, where about 650 meals are provided per day. The program was started using CARES Act funds and they are considering expanding to other rural communities. Ten percent of the food that restaurants prepare must be from local farms, which helps support those businesses as well. #covid-19 #foodsecurity #rural

States with broadband funding program have better access

September 1, 2020 – Families

Rural researchers describe their new work on broadband policy in the Daily Yonder, focusing on how three specific policies—state funding for broadband, presence of a state broadband office, and restrictions on municipal or cooperative broadband provision—affect access. The authors find that state broadband funding is the only policy consistently associated with availability of high-speed internet and multiple internet options, particularly for rural places. This work is especially relevant in the context of telework and remote learning in the pandemic. #covid-19 #rural

The Digital Divide and COVID-19: Teachers' Perceptions of Inequities in Students' Internet Access and Participation in Remote Learning

September 1, 2020 – General

RAND researchers investigate the relationship between teachers' reports of their students' internet access and their interaction with students and families during school closures related to the coronavirus pandemic. When teachers deliver remote instruction, their capacity to communicate with students and their families is shaped by home internet access. Researchers found that half of teachers estimated that all or nearly all of their students had access to the internet at home, and teachers in schools located in towns and rural areas, schools serving higher percentages of students of color, and high-poverty schools were significantly less likely to report that all or nearly all of their students had access to the internet at home. Researchers also found that gaps in internet access among students in higher-poverty versus lower-poverty schools—as reported by their teachers—varied greatly by state. These data suggest that existing inequities for students in rural and high-poverty schools might be exacerbated by students' limited access to the internet and communication with teachers as remote instruction continues. #education #rural #racialequity

New COVID-19 cases in rural counties now higher than national average

August 15, 2020 – Families

Rural experts at the Daily Yonder document new COVID-19 infection rates for counties at different levels of urbanicity. The research finds that new cases in nonmetropolitan counties are rising, exceeding the national new-case rate as of mid-August, although new cases rates are still highest in major metropolitan areas (and now, lowest in the suburbs). These high rural rates represent a reversal from trends early in the pandemic, when rural places were largely insulated from the spread realized in metropolitan areas. #covid-19 #rural

Rural educators creatively respond to connectivity gaps, but need support

August 10, 2020 – Young Children, Older Youth

As recent research shows that rural school districts were less likely to provide remote learners with devices and mobile hotspots than urban districts in the pandemic (despite similar lack of access across places), a new Brookings piece explores solutions. The authors elevate strategies that were successful in some rural spaces, including mapping local places with internet access, purchasing cellular data for students, directing families to free or low cost internet providers, and setting out hotspots and outdoor work space on school grounds. For rural communities struggling with transportation, teachers checked in by phone or recorded video lessons and delivered via USB drive. While these strategies illustrate the creativity in addressing rural connectivity challenges, the authors also acknowledge that these efforts require serious support from their local, state, and federal leaders who can help fund and facilitate these and other solutions that are tailored to individual communities’ and families’ needs. #covid-19 #education #rural

North Carolina health providers give smartphones to connect patients with mental health services

August 7, 2020 – Families

Two health providers in rural North Carolina—Vaya Health and Partners Behavioral Health Management—came up with a plan to keep patients connected to their mental health services when the pandemic hit. They identified 1,000 patients who did not have access to a computer or for phone for telehealth appointments and gave them a free smartphone with a data plan. Verizon provided the phones for free and the providers paid for the data plans. By investing in connecting these patients to mental health services they hope to reduce future hospitalizations and emergency department visits. Further, the phones have also provided a way for patients to maintain social relationships, which is also important for mental health. #covid-19 #rural #mentalhealth